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Individuality as an Obligation

FH - das grosse Fertighausmagazin / Authorship with the publisher and Claudia Dabringer



Claudia Dabringer: The houses that you developed, planned and built were internationally lauded. What makes your style different from other architects?  

Horst Lechner: I would not focus so much on the differences here. We understand each individual building as the core of our task. Therefore, the spaces and the theme of planning the interior and exterior spaces, as well as the connection between them arise from the discussions with our clients. From this, relatively individual and unique spatial structures are developed. The formal results come from the use of components and technology..

Horst Lechner: It is impossible for a client to have wishes that are so unique that we would have to turn the project down. These wishes are what make the process exciting. 

Claudia Dabringer: You run your business together. Who contributes what to a project?

Horst Lechner: That cannot be separated. We always sit together and discuss and look at things with each other or drive to places that are important to the builder or give him encouragement. And then we condense our impressions of these different aspects into a proposal. Then in addition there's a model, plans, but all of that comes together in a creative process.

Claudia Dabringer: Would you say that a common style has developed through your life together and your work together?

​Christine Lechner: For us, the most important thing is referencing the landscape. We want to bring nature into the house but also hide what we like less. The concept of compact, yet open space is also very important for us.


Horst Lechner: Moreover, we have been trying for years to build houses that need only one, two or three thousand Schillings a month in heating costs or that require zero-energy because we believe that these are the best kinds of houses for old age provisions.

Claudia Dabringer: Is there a perfect building material, the perfect construction method, for this common thread in your joint style?

Christine Lechner: We really do not want to limit ourselves to that. Nevertheless, we also rely on methods or materials that have proven useful. Basically, we like to try out different materials, such as using straw in our plan for a home for a Carinthian family.

Claudia Dabringer: You also use prefabricated components in your homes. What are the advantages of this for you?

Christine Lechner: The building is cheaper. The more components are prefabricated, the lower the costs are and in turn, the duration time is shortened.


Horst Lechner: Another advantage lies in the lightness of these components. As a result, the weight and, thus the static structure, of the house are reduced. We also tend to use a prefabricated component that meets specific criteria to reach recommended level if the thermal insulation should not exceed a certain amount..

Claudia Dabringer: Prefabricated house manufacturers speak of the great individuality of their products. Would you be tempted to follow Gustav Peichl or Matteo Thun and plan an entire prefabricated house?

Horst Lechner: Not according to your own ideas. For a prefabricated house, the briefing has to be very harsh: for who is it, what must it be, and what framework conditions should it meet. Otherwise, the entire project will fail and that does not help anyone. Basically you have to say: it is inexpensive, it is great and thrills the young people. It should be for many people and therefore, meet the taste of many people.

Claudia Dabringer: Does that mean that your design would only be designed for young people rather than older people?


Horst Lechner: I do not exclude the older target group at all. They often have very interesting and open ideas about living, which in many cases are very similar to the visions the young people have. The older generation in particular does not want a hunting lodge, as our experiences in the rural area have shown. When we build a modern house somewhere, it is usually the older ones who defend the idea of it. Nevertheless, the trend in the designs simply goes in the direction of younger target group.

Claudia Dabringer: More and more people are choosing prefabricated houses, which is now a well-engineered product. In which prefabricated house do you envision people living in 15 years?

Christine Lechner: In one that is affordable to build, has low fixed costs and enables quality living.

Claudia Dabringer: So principally not much different than today. Also not from the architecture?

Horst Lechner: Yes, because a middle ground between prefabricated houses that are planned by well-known architects (and located in the upper price segment) and those who run on the cheaper track must be found. In my opinion, there is currently only one prefabricated house philosophy, which is that of the Vorarlberg architect Johannes Kaufmann who pursues a container-like concept. Basically, however, the prefabricated houses will have to become more and more unique because nobody wants to live in a house that someone else already has.


Christine Lechner: After all, everyone is looking for a home


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